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Calhoun shines with 1st multi-homer game

@Sullivan_Ranger
September 6, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun entered Friday’s game in a 2-for-22 slump, so he decided to take action. He gave away all his bats to Rougned Odor and his brother. “Yeah, there [are] no more hits left in those old bats, so I just gave them away,” Calhoun said.

BALTIMORE -- Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun entered Friday’s game in a 2-for-22 slump, so he decided to take action.

He gave away all his bats to Rougned Odor and his brother.

“Yeah, there [are] no more hits left in those old bats, so I just gave them away,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun broke out a new shipment from his bat supplier and found more than a few hits inside. He found a couple of home runs and a new career high in RBIs.

Calhoun hit two home runs for the first time in his career and drove in four runs to lead the Rangers to a 7-6 victory over the Orioles on Friday night at Camden Yards. Calhoun now has 18 home runs on the season, but this was the first time he has gone deep since Aug. 29 against the Mariners.

Box score

“Honestly, I've been feeling good,” Calhoun said. “I've been seeing the ball good. I've just been hitting them off the end of my bat ever since we got to New York. I got the first hit there, but I was hitting the ball off the end of my bat, so I came in today, and all my bats I use [in games], I gave them to Rougie and his little brother, and I got my whole new box of bats, and I told myself 'I'm never using those bats again.'”

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he wasn’t concerned about Calhoun’s lack of success lately. Woodward is still seeing what he needs to in Calhoun at the plate.

“I just see consistency,” Woodward said. “I know today he hit two home runs, but even when he is not getting hits he is still pressuring baseballs. He has been doing that ever since he got here. That’s something I’ve expressed to him many times, if you stay in the strike zone and you don’t swing at balls, with your swing and ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, you are going to be successful. That’s what he is going to have to do, and he has been doing it every time."

Calhoun’s big night and a seventh-inning comeback by the Rangers came on a night when starter Brock Burke was feeling the effects of his recent bout with a stomach virus. Burke gave the Rangers what he had but allowed six runs in five innings. All the runs came off home runs to Trey Mancini in the first, Richie Martin the second and Anthony Santander in the fifth.

“I think it probably did affect it a little bit,” Burke said. “I lost eight or nine pounds, and after I got done with the warm-up bullpen I didn't really feel too great. It felt slow and not as strong as I normally did, and I think that played into the later innings. I started slowing down and the pitches weren't where they normally are.”

Burke said he wanted to give the Rangers at least five innings because they are planning to use only relievers Saturday against the Orioles.

“He just didn’t have the finish on the ball he normally has, but he battled his tail off and got burned by three home runs,” Woodward said. “I am proud of him going out there and giving us everything he had. He wanted to get through five, and he got through five.

Calhoun’s offense came early. His first home run came with nobody on base in the first inning off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, and later, with the Rangers trailing 4-1 in the fourth, hit a three-run, game-tying shot.

“I mean it's always good to have a good game and to build your confidence,” Calhoun said. “But I was just trying to tell myself to hit the ball in the barrel instead of hitting the ball off the end of my bat. Yesterday, I hit two balls off the end of my bat, and if I'd just waited like 0.1 second longer it maybe could have been a home run, but today I'm just trying to hit the ball on the barrel and I got two good pitches to hit.”

The Rangers still trailed, 6-4, going into the seventh but were able to rally and take the lead. Scott Heineman led off with a double off Bundy, before left-handed reliever Paul Fry walked two and gave up a single to Shin-Soo Choo that scored one run. Elvis Andrus’ single off right-hander Shawn Armstrong drove in two and put the Rangers ahead.

The Rangers held on for the win by getting a combined four scoreless innings from relievers Brett Martin, Emmanuel Clase, Rafael Montero and Jose Leclerc. Pitching for the second straight night, Leclerc earned his 11th save.

“He has a really good swing from both sides of the plate,” Hyde said. “His swings are really similar, which is kind of rare. He stays through the ball well, and his bat stays in the zone a long time. He has huge power from both sides, which is pretty rare also.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.